Morbid Fact Du Jour For May 1, 2017

Today’s Pox-like Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The earliest physical evidence for the presence of smallpox in ancient Egypt is a striking rash of yellow pustules on the mummified face and hands of Ramses V, a pharoah who died at age forty in 1157 B.C. and whose well-preserved remains are on display in the Cairo Museum. Traders carried smallpox from Egypt to India, where Sanskrit medical texts describe epidemics as early as 1500 B.C. The disease arrived in China by 1122 B.C., apparently imported by the Huns, since the Chinese called it “Hunpox”.  


A Pox Upon Ramses V

Smallpox had a major impact on the history of the ancient world. According to the Greek historian Thucydides, an epidemic suggestive of smallpox struck Athens around 430 B.C., killing a third of the city-state’s population and contributing to its defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. In the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great’s army was ravaged by the disease during a campaign in India. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius died of smallpox in A.D. 570, Abyssinian troops on elephants besieging the Arab capital of Mecca were decimated by an outbreak of smallpox, an incident described metaphorically in the Koran.

In the seventh and eight centuries, Arab armies carried smallpox across North Africa and into the Iberian Peninsula. From the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries, crusaders returning to Europe from the Holy Land and traders plying the Silk Road to China dispersed the disease widely. In Great Britain in the late fifteenth century, the pustular skin rash came to be called the “small pockes” (from pocke, meaning sac) to distinguish it from syphilis, then known as the “great pockes”.  

Culled from: Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox

 

Guess the Malady!

Illustration culled from one of the newest additions to The Library EclecticaThe Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration.

Can you guess the malady depicted here?  (Answer below.)

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Answer: Severe Impetigo.  

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